Perfect Patina? 1977 AMC Gremlin X

In the early 1970s, all the U.S. automakers were scrambling to come up with sub-compact cars to do battle against the imports (and each other). AMC beat both Chevy and Ford to the punch by nearly six months with the roll-out of the Gremlin for 1970 (compared to the Vega and Pinto for 1971). Whereas the competition had all-new cars, the Gremlin was a variation of the recently introduced Hornet in the compact sector. It was a quirky-looking car, one that people either loved or hated. This 1977 Gremlin X was recently transplanted from North Carolina to Illinois (between Rockford and Aurora) and available here on craigslist for $3,800. Thanks to our pal Ikey Heyman for this tip!

In order for AMC to get the jump on the other guys, they built the Gremlin on a shortened and modified Hornet platform. This sped up development time and saved set-up costs. From the doors forward, it was a conventional-looking car, but the “kammback” hindquarters set it apart. Unlike the Japanese cars and the Pinto and Vegas, the Gremlin used a six-cylinder powerplant over a four-banger. While not quite as miserly on gas, the Gremlin was faster than the other guys. The gas thing wouldn’t become as issue until after the ‘70s OPEC oil embargo. AMC decided to capitalize on is meatier motors, so the Gremlin X debuted for 1971. The “X” would have the largest six-cylinder that AMC had to offer, bodyside striping, wider tires on slot-style wheels, and bucket seats borrowed from the Javelin. Gremlin sales peaked in 1974 at 132,000 units but declined to 46,000 by 1977 and was retired after 1978 in favor of the Spirit model, which was less funky-looking.

If you look up the term patina, you may find a picture of this car next to it. The 1977 Gremlin X was a North Carolina car until recently and looks to have spent A LOT of time out in the sun. Rust is present, but may be not excessive but in places like the bottoms of the doors and fenders. The chassis doesn’t look bad, just a little crusty. The car appears to have been well-optioned when it left the factory, with extras like a roof rack with a wind deflector.

The interior is pretty well-worn, although the upholstery looks to be intact. However, all the carpeting will need replacing including that in the hatch area. The headliner is suspect, as well. The car has factory A/C, but there is no mention if it functions. It likely does not as the motor turns but doesn’t run, indicating a long-dormant vehicle. We’re guessing the motor is the AMC 258 cubic inch six mated with an automatic transmission. We’re told the car has 60,000 miles on it, which is possible if it’s been off the road awhile. The North Carolina plate looks like it’s been on there forever.

The Gremlin saw total production of more than 670,000 units in nine model years, but we don’t know what portion of these were “X” equipped. Hagerty says a top flight Gremlin is worth maybe $15,000 plus another 10% for the “X” package. We suspect the restoration cost of this car would far exceed the spread between the seller’s asking price and these quotes. But if you did bring this one back to life, you’d have a car that you won’t see five more just like it at every car show.


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  1. bobhess bobhess Member


    Like 9
    • Phlathead Phil

      I’d agree with you sir.

      We certainly have seen a load of Gremlins lately eh?

  2. J_Paul Member

    “This would make a cool LeMons racer” I thought, before seeing the $3,800 price and spitting out my coffee.

    $3,800 for a filthy and rusty (let’s be honest here) ’77 Gremlin that doesn’t run? I admit I’m not in the target market for this kind of car, but YIKES.

    Like 24
  3. Mitchell Gildea Member

    Clear coat the exterior drop a 401 in and do burnouts

    Like 10
    • Brett


      Like 2
  4. bull

    Wayne’s replacement for the Pacer!

    Like 3
  5. Johnny

    $3,800 ? Let,s be reasonable. $800 . Then if a person done most of the work themselve add about $4,000 for fixing everything . You would have a nice little car that would be dependable and not have a 5 year payment book at the bank. Plus a car you could fix yourself. . If it was sold for $800 it would be a fair price and affordable. People who ask big prices for a vehicle. Should stop and think. It takes money,alot of work,searching for parts. $ 800 WOULD BE A REASONABLE PRICE,BUT $3,800 way to much money

    Like 17
    • Butchb

      A couple years back I bought a complete but non running 77 Gremlin. It still had the dealer sticker from the Arizona dealer that originally sold it. Solid but had sat for many years so it had its share of “character”. What did I pay for it? ( Drum roll please)….$800.00

      Like 10
  6. Arby

    “Hagerty says a top flight Gremlin is worth maybe $15,000”

    What’s “Hagerty”, a brand of weed from Colorado?

    Like 14
  7. bud lee

    I like a little more ( more like a lot ) paint on my ” perfect patina ” .

    Like 5
    • JagManBill

      agreed – there is a point at which “patina” just becomes rust…

      Like 2
      • Phlathead Phil


        My buddy sez “Rust Never Sleeps.”

        He has a Toxic Orange Challenger.

  8. JoeNYWF64

    Surprised to see staggered rear shocks & a thick front sway bar on a ‘6 cyl.
    I do see some undercoating, good upholstery, & a dry oil pan.
    This car has white carpeting?! – maybe was light blue that faded.

  9. Spridget

    I’ll paraphrase something I saw on Bring A Trailer about patina: patina is about showing the history and originality of the vehicle. A dent in the bed of an old Chevy C10 where it’s first owner loaded it with gravel, ghost writing on the side of a VW bus from when it was a delivery van, a scratch on the side of a Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser where the original owner’s son hit it with his bike, marks on the floorboards of an MGB where a rollbar was mounted. So, when you’re looking at patina, ask yourself: does this tell me anything interesting about the vehicle’s history? Would removing this take away something unique that no other car of this model has? In this case, no; the only story this patina tells is that the car sat abandoned outdoors for decades, because it was a used car, and not a very desirable one at that.

    Like 19
    • Bobby Longshot

      Yes, the story this patina tells is that the car sat abandoned outdoors for decades, because it was a used car, and not a very desirable one at that.


      Like 4
  10. Miguel

    Will that roof even be able to be painted? It looks pitted beyond repair.

    Like 7
    • That AMC Guy

      Yeah, this thing is way beyond “patina” and well on the way to “heap of rusted junk”.

      Like 6
  11. KEVIN

    I’d need a tetanus shot before I’d go near that

    Like 9
  12. DON

    There are Gremlins that would sell for a decent amount of money, but a last year Gremlin with a six cylinder isn’t one of them . They could have at least washed off the crud from the tires so potential buyers wouldn’t see it sat in the dirt for years

    Like 2
  13. Miguel

    I can get nice versions where I am for much, much less.

    Like 3
  14. sir_mike

    It’s called RUST

    Like 6
  15. AMCFAN

    This is a rare color combo and the first I have seen. Silver and Black. The X package is a plus and should be noted just a trim option. It makes a Gremlin look great. The aluminum wheels are also an option.

    The reason for the rust is the silver paint has completely wore off including the sealer. This was typical of certain paints especially in the 1970’s.

    The North Carolina area would have been mild to the understructure because the top of the front fenders, door bottoms and lower quarters are not swiss cheese. This would indicate the car is MORE solid than it appears.

    If the 258 turns over then it is only sleeping. It will still need pulled and sealed as well as the trans. To get it mechanical is a stretch and quite a bit of work but the 77-78 Gremlins are unique and this would make a stunning example.

    This sinopois comes from someone that has actually owned many Gremlins in the last 40 years. Not someone on the outside looking in.

    Like 4
  16. Superdessucke

    I’d love to drop a Hellcat drivetrain into this, upgrade the suspension and brakes, and leave the body and interior EXACTLY as is..Can you imagine the look on a Porsche 911 or Cayman driver’s face when you thrashed him all over the road in this? LOL!!

    Like 2
    • Superdessucke

      Sorry, straight road. Any curves and things in a Hellcat Gremlin would get, er, interesting in a big hurry. But still.

      Like 1
    • Miguel

      How would you keep the car from doing a wheelie or just sitting and spinning?

      Like 1
      • Superdessucke

        ?? I wouldn’t. Why would you want to?

        Like 1
      • Miguel

        My question was in response to this.

        “Can you imagine the look on a Porsche 911 or Cayman driver’s face when you thrashed him all over the road in this?”

        If you wheelie or sit and spin, you won’t be thrashing him all over the road.

      • Superdessucke

        Okay maybe not but it would certainly be cool. But if you wanted to, I bet you a good set of wheelie bars would keep it on the ground. And you would probably need them.

        Like 1
      • Miguel

        I drove an old beat up one back in 1983 with a factory V8 and it almost picked up the front wheels. I can’t imagine what would happen with a hemi.

        Like 1
      • Superdessucke

        I pretty much guarantee the Hellcat motor puts this thing on its “hind legs” without wheelie bars, I think you are right on that. Anyway, for a more practical swap, how about a 1987-06 EFI 4.0 from a Cherokee? That should fit with few mods as it evolved from the 258. Perhaps not as fun, but would keep the car’s original balance with a good performance increase.

        Like 1
  17. Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

    Not junk, but not patina either. Gremlins are in demand, and not that plentiful, so it’s not an $800 car, $800 would probably not buy a nice set of Javelin bucket seats, they would probably be more than that, sort of like a TriFive split bench front seat. But every forum is full of know-nothing experts, with nothing better to do than troll every post.

    Like 3
  18. pwtiger

    If you had to pay a shop to strip and paint her it would total out the old gal…

  19. bull

    At the end of the day it is STILL A GREMLIN no matter what ya do to it!

    The only 2 people who will be impressed are the ones who posted above how much they liked Gremlins and owned Gremlins!

    Like 2
  20. Dennis

    Price is too much! In 1980 I bought a 1977 Gremlin for $3300 from a dealership. Traded it in in 1983 for $1400. For a project car it’s a $ 1000 or less car

    • Superdessucke

      I agree to pray seems too high but your basis of comparison is like 100 years old!

      Like 1
      • AMCFAN

        Agree. The last 77/78 Gremlin I purchased was at a charity auction where vehicles are donated. It compared to this was mint. Was not an X but had the 258 and A/C I paid under $500 and that was in the 1990’s and drove it home.Ended up being a nice car.

        A lot has changed with collectibility and car values with everything since the 1990’s and I do not live under a rock. Knowing what I paid for Gremlins and AMC’s over the years does nothing to the value today. The few that survive in 2020 are worth more.

        Like 1
  21. Karl

    I can see “patina” on the tires where they have been sunk in the ground for the last heaven knows how long? I bet the lower frame/undercarriage has all kinds of “patina” on it also!

  22. Bubba5

    Was there a fire???

  23. jpvogl

    Well I guess that Beverly Hills Car Club doesn’t quite have the market cornered on beauties like this.

    In the words of Autoweek, “immortal glassy eyed”….

    Like 1
  24. Chris

    LOOK at that paTINA!

  25. Miguel

    With everything that has been said about the “patina”, I would love to make it new again.

    The challenge would be fun and satisfying.

    Like 1
  26. Phlathead Phil

    Was rust an optional color for the Gremlin?

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      That depends where you live.

      Like 1
  27. Shawn Tucjer

    $3800? I can’t even get that for my 75 matador sedan with 14k irig miles! Injustice!

  28. Mitchell Ross Member

    As has been said, a lot of know nothings have decided what the value of this car is. In good driver condition this is a $5000-$6000 car so i think the right price for this is $1800. A carpet is $200 if you want the part that goes in the hatch area. Some time and effort with amateur sanding and body prep. Take to Maaco for a $700 original color paint job in the same enamel that it was painted from the factory. Get it running nice and paint the motor. Rock auto has all the front end parts and you have a nice car for $4000.

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